A suicide bomber rammed into a Russian firing range killing five people and wounding scores early yesterday in the volatile North Caucasus region of Dagestan, law enforcement sources said.
The explosives-packed car attacked a military base used by the motor rifle brigade at Dalny near the city of Buynaksk, about 40km west of the local capital Makhachkala, said the sources, who refused to be identified.
“Five people are dead. Three of them died on the spot and another two in hospital,” a law enforcement source told reporters, adding that the blast had hurt at least another 35 people, two of whom were in critical condition.
Russia’s defense ministry promptly imposed a state of heightened security at military installations in its Southern Military District — made up of the mainly Muslim regions along Russia’s southern flank.
However, it put the death toll from the blast at three and said 33 people were wounded.
“A heightened security regime has been ordered for the duty officers and guards at all the military installations in the district,” ministry spokesman Colonel Alexei Kuznetsov said, quoted by Russian news agencies.
He added that the ministry had dispatched a special commission led by the acting Southern Military District commander to the site of the terror attack.
When the suicide bomber struck at about 12:30am, guards at the base opened fire on the explosive-laden car and blocked its full-speed accelerations into the center of the base with a truck, Kuznetsov said.
“After firing several warning shots, soldiers guarding the field camp opened fire on the terrorist’s car,” he said, quoted by RIA Novosti.
The blast was followed by a second roadside explosion that targeted investigators on the way to the scene, but there were no casualties, Russian agencies said.
Dagestan has become arguably Russia’s most violent region hit not only by growing Islamic militancy but also deep-rooted mafia problems, clan rivalries and socio-economic stagnation.
Local president Magomedsalam Magomedov said the latest attack underscored just how vulnerable the region still is to militant strikes.
The Dagestani leader added that while security forces had recently carried out a series of “successful operations,” they needed to bolster efforts to hunt down militants.
Shootings and bomb attacks have become a near-daily occurrence in the North Caucasus, where the pro-Kremlin authorities are battling an increasingly deadly Islamist insurgency.
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